Thursday, July 9, 2009

back to the islands

I was back in the islands again, Hatteras and Ocracoke, for another brief trip.  More time on the islands, who's life am I been living these days?
Drove down to Hatteras Wednesday afternoon.  I had books on my mind - I'm in search of a something new to read.  Passing through Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head I got to thinking about a couple of my favorite Outer Banks books, Gravesend Light and Ruin Creek, both by southern writer David Payne.    They are wonderful books with rich characters and great portraits of life in the outer banks in the early 1960's (Ruin Creek) and late 70's/early 80's (Gravesend Light).  I don't consider the Outer Banks to have a great literary tradition.  There are some good books from there - but they are mostly history/pirate/graveyard of the Atlantic books.  These two books are great reads and if you enjoy the Outer Banks I think you'll find them interesting.

I stopped in Buxton and had dinner at the Sandbar and Grille with my good friend Irene, publisher of the Island Free Press.  The first time I visited the Sandbar and Grille it was in its old Hatteras location and literally filled with sand.  Hurricane Isabel had just blown through and cut Hatteras Island in two, turning Hatteras Village in to what became known to locals as Little Hatteras Island.  The overwash had surged through the Sandbar and Grille (and every other place in Hatteras Village) and left it a sand-filled mess.  I'm happy to say it is still in business, a few miles to the northwest in Buxton, and doing very well.  We both enjoyed some excellent flounder sandwiches.
The next morning I caught an early ferry over to Ocracoke.  On the way past Hatteras Inlet I saw one of the boats of the Albatross Fleet  (below) trolling just inside the southern tip of Hatteras Island.  The fleet, dating back to 1937, is one of the earliest charter fleets operating on the outer banks.  Their tradition reaches back to Ernal Foster, a commercial fisherman who realized that money could be made by taking guests out fishing.  There are three boats in the fleet now, including the original boat from 1937, and they all have that classic look (I would call it art deco, but that's probably not the right term.  They do stand out from every other charter boat in the harbor. ) 
I had the good fortune a few years ago to attend a party given by Ernie Foster (son of Ernal, and now captain of the fleet) and his wife Lynne.  I remember a wonderful evening in their Hatteras Village home, Ernie frying cubes of fresh caught mahi mahi and Lynne making everyone feel like a special guest.  If you want to read an interesting book (I don't mean for the blog to be about books, but hey, I like books) take a look at Hatteras Blue, A Story from the Edge of America by Tom Carlson.  It is a nice book about people surviving on an island made of shifting sands, dealing with changes in nature, weather and whatever comes their way.   It concludes with a look at the islanders, including the Fosters,  dealing with the devastation of Hurricane Isabel - the same storm that wiped out the Sandbar and Grille.
I did hear from Bruce the other day.  He is back from his Alaskan adventure.  He emailed me a photo of himself standing next to a giant fish.  It might even be real.  I hope he does a post about it soon.
We talked a little about the ChesBay 150 and he seemed to like the idea of leaving a day or so earlier out of Onancock.  We'll talk about it over the next few weeks and break out the charts when I head home to San Diego for a visit later this month.


No comments: